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Ten Pacific island nations dismissed Chinese proposals for a wide-ranging regional security pact Monday, amid concerns over Beijing’s increasing influence in the region and worry about getting caught in a geopolitical tussle between the West and China, Channel News Asia reported.
Pacific leaders and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi failed to reach an agreement during talks in Fiji, citing misgivings about China’s offer: Wang proposed a pact that would see China train police officials in the Pacific, increase its involvement in cybersecurity, foster stronger political ties, and obtain access to natural resources. China would also provide millions of dollars in financial assistance and a potential free-trade agreement as enticement.
But some of the leaders said the offer was “disingenuous” and would “ensure Chinese influence in government” and “economic control” of key industries. More soft-spoken leaders said there was a lack of regional consensus.
Wang’s visit was a high-profile diplomatic defeat for Beijing, which has been increasing its activity in the South Pacific, directly threatening the US and its allies’ dominance in the strategically important region.
Western leaders, meanwhile, have cautioned Pacific nations to be wary of “shadowy, vague deals with little transparency.”
Even so, many of the Pacific countries noted that they would rather keep amicable ties with both China and the West while focusing on the more urgent threat of climate change and day-to-day economic issues.